Will the NFL be able to go on as they planned, business-as-usual style? During all the time of pre-season, the League has been playing cool, making no mystery that they plan to carry on as if nothing was happening. That implies having a full season, following their initial plans. Every day more, this is appearing more difficult to achieve. “I just feel like the season shouldn't happen,” Odell Beckham, the Browns receiver, told the WSJ Magazine on August 3rd. “And I'm prepared for it not to happen, and I wouldn't mind not having it.”
According to CBS Sports, there are already 44 players who have opted out of the season so far. If this trend keeps up, NFL fans will definitely migrate towards the betting sites and find better opportunities to enjoy sports and gaming there. Football is taking a bad beating from the pandemic situation. Beckham has not opted out yet, but he uttered some very harsh judgements on the League's attitude: “We're not ready for football season,” he said. “So why are we trying to push forward? It's obviously for their money. And that bothers me because there's always been this—and I hate saying it like that—but the owners' [attitude is], ‘Oh we own you guys,' and just kind of that unfairness going on that they don't see us as human.”
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos right tackle, Ja ‘Wuan James, broke out the news of his opting-out. He did so on Twitter on Monday, August 4th, after two weeks of intense talks with his family, his wife in particular. James is the signatory of a giant four-year deal with Denver, worth $51 million last offseason, which means he is the highest-paid right tackle in the League. And yet, this wasn't enough to offset his worries about health and security.
“My wife and I were blessed by our newborn son on May 22nd and he is now my priority,” he posted on Twitter. “It is a tough, but the right decision.” James disclosed that one of his family members was hospitalized with the virus, and he feels as though risking the health of his loved ones just isn't enough to suit up this season.
He is in good company, as proved by the long list of opt-out colleagues on the custom page set up by CBS Sports to track the defections. The NFL and the NFL Player's Association have come out with a plan to allow players to opt-out of the 2020 season if they have fears connected to the epidemics. The also added stipends for high-risk individuals, to the tune of $350,000. The less-at-risk would still receive a $150,000 stipend. In case a family member falls ill, players will be able to opt-out also later in the season.
Perhaps the NFL was not expecting dozens of players to jump on the opportunity. Rumor has it that they are thinking to shorten the deadline given to those who are considering the option, since they have to notify their intentions in writing. The decision will then be irrevocable for the remainder of the 2020 season. The League hopes to put some psychological pressure on players by pressuring them into hurrying up with the final decision.